When Life is Disposable: Muslim Bodies as Precarious in the War on Terror

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(Photo: Justin Norman)

By Dr. Maha Hilal, Executive Director at National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms

“[W]hat counts as a livable life and a grievable death?”

(Judith Butler, 2004, p. xv)

The Muslim body in the so-called War on Terror has been treated as if it is without value and inconsequential. Muslim bodies have been detained, extradited, tortured, and unlawfully killed. Muslim lives have been drowned in a sea of policy and rhetoric that justifies the loss of lives as “collateral damage” in the name of protecting U.S. security.  Methods which would otherwise be considered brutal and inconsistent with the U.S. government claims to uphold democracy and human rights position Muslims as less than human, and in this way their lives and their deaths are treated as inconsequential. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What do you know about your batteries?

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By Dr. Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt, Director, Human Rights in Business Program, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law 

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. They are in your mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and cameras, and even power electric cars. But did you know that cobalt is a key component of those batteries? Where does cobalt come from? More than half of the world’s cobalt is supplied by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC and conflict minerals probably rings a bell. It’s well-known that the global trade in the 3Ts (tin, tungsten, tantalum) and gold has financed abusive armed groups in the DRC and fueled conflict. While cobalt is not a conflict mineral, artisanal miners mine cobalt in the southern part of the country under extremely dangerous and abusive work conditions, which are similar to the conditions in eastern DRC where conflict minerals are extracted. A new Amnesty report, This is What We Die For, traces the cobalt supply chain from the artisanal miners to the big brands selling electronic devices, and exposes all the governments and companies along the way that have turned a blind eye to the human rights violations suffered by the miners. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Child Labor Behind Smartphones Exposed

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Cobalt Mining in the DRC

Major electronics brands, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, are failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child laborers has not been used in their products, said Amnesty International and Afrewatch in a report published today.

The report, This is What We Die For: Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Power the Global Trade in Cobalt, traces the sale of cobalt, used in lithium-ion batteries, from mines where children as young as seven and adults work in perilous conditions.

“The glamorous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage,” said Mark Dummett, Business & Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

15 Powerful Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes

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Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to the crowds at Montgomery.  Photo: Stephen Somerstein

Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to the crowds at Montgomery. Photo: Stephen Somerstein

Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist and champion of human rights, justice and equality. His powerful words continue to inspire, teach and shape individuals in the US and around the world.

1. “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

2. “We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.”

3. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

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The Malaysian government has no sense of humor – and that’s dangerous

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By Zunar, via The Washington Post

I’m a cartoonist in a country where cartooning can be a crime. Under my pen name, Zunar, I expose corruption and abuses of power by the Malaysian government. As it happens, I have a good deal of material to work with. For instance, Prime Minister Najib Razak is currently facing questions about a $700 million “donation” made to his personal bank account.

Last February, police raided my home in the middle of the night and hauled me off to jail. I was handcuffed for eight hours and thrown into a cell with all the other criminal suspects. I managed to avoid telling my cellmates what I was in for: using Twitter. Continue reading

Read the full piece published by The Washington Post here

2015 Has Seen the Worst Refugee Crisis Since WWII

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2015 has seen the worst refugee crisis in recent history with over 19.5 million refugees across the globe. Unprecedented numbers of refugees have arrived on Europe’s shores, while countries in the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa continue to host the majority of the world’s refugees. Amnesty is calling for a dramatic shift in the way the international community deals with the global refugee crisis from 2016.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Executions of Juvenile Offenders in Iran Are an Affront to the World’s Conscience

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In a very rare piece of good news in an otherwise bleak landscape, Iranian authorities recently postponed the scheduled execution of juvenile offender Salar Shadizadi at the eleventh hour. He was to be hanged on November 28 for a killing that occurred when Mr. Shadizadi was just 15 years old.

Iran is one of the very few countries in the world that continues to execute juveniles. At least four juvenile offenders — including one female — have been executed already in Iran in 2015. This is a blatant violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran has ratified; Article 37 of the Convention states: “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

My Husband is in Prison for Supporting Human Rights in Saudi Arabia

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Samar Badawi, wife of imprisoned Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, and their daughter Joud. Samar is also the sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

Samar Badawi, wife of imprisoned Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, and their daughter Joud.

Samar Badawi’s husband is Waleed Abu al-Khair, a prominent human rights lawyer in Saudi Arabia. Waleed is in prison, serving a 15-year sentence for speaking out about human rights.

Take action now to demand Waleed’s release

Words are not enough for me to express how proud I am of my husband. How deeply proud I am of the man who believed in me and my cause when I was imprisoned. As my lawyer, he defended me and never left me alone to face those who unjustly attempted to impose their patriarchal authority over me just because I am a woman who dared to speak up. Everyone turned their backs on me except for my husband who remained by my side until he had helped achieve justice for my cause.

He has always been my rock whenever I felt weak, he was my strength and my source of motivation and inspiration. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

One Letter Can Change a Life. Millions Can Start a Human Rights Movement

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By Maya Delany, Amnesty USA Student Activist Coordinator for Western Massachusetts

Last December, I arrived at my student group’s annual Write for Rights AmnesTEA event and was greeted by dim lighting, steaming beverages, and our group members sitting in a circle writing letters. I poured myself some tea, read summaries of each case, and started writing a letter to the King of Saudi Arabia about Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for simply expressing his opinions.

Last year’s Write for Rights, with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide writing a record-breaking 3 million letters and email actions SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

After Paris: Don’t Sacrifice Human Rights in the Name of Security

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By Dana Gallaty, Security with Human Rights Action Network

amnestyIt is concerning, though unsurprising, that some U.S. lawmakers’ and politicians’ initial reactions to the horrific attacks in Paris earlier this month were to respond to one set of human rights abuses by threatening another.

Last month, Donald Trump suggested American Muslims should be tracked and forced to carry identification cards denoting their religious beliefs. That statement—and the din of anti-Muslim fear-mongering on mainstream media right now— echo the anti-Semitism that preceded atrocities committed during World War II against Jews in Europe. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST